A shock wave shivered through our church choir when we learned that our director and his wife were splitting. Their marriage had lasted 17 years, barely long enough for their eldest daughter to graduate from high school and her sister to enter her senior year. He had waited this long, he explained later, because he wanted to be sure that the kids would be old enough to take care of themselves. Waiting for him was a woman half his age, a college music student, his student. Without delay, they made no secret of their new freedom as a couple, appearing regularly together at church services and social events.
We who thought we knew them thought their marriage was strong. It appeared that way. What happened? Only the couple knows the private details of their life together. Them and the kids. They usually know more than their parents think they do.
My choir director’s marriage ended many years ago. Last night I learned that the husband of one of my dearest friends has left her to head west and start a new life. He informed her of his decision about 10 days before Christmas, handed over the keys to the house and left. They had been married 35 years. If they were like most couples, their marriage had its share both of disagreements and shared joys, but his departure came as a shock to her. This generous, outgoing, social person of many talents, this loving women, suddenly was alone at Christmas, and she still is. Mark Twain had it right. He said that to get the full value of joy, we need someone to share it with.
Friends want to help her, but we know that warm hugs and sympathetic words aren’t enough just now.
Some marriages end, and others last. This coming August, Betsy and I will celebrate 55 years together. We both understand that our marriage is a gift, a blessing, and we are so grateful for it. As we have aged, we have noticed that our love and respect for and appreciation of each other have grown stronger with the passing years. When others learn how long we have been married, they tend to react as if a long marriage is a rare thing. It shouldn’t be.
Loving is about giving. No one should ever take it away.